For the first time in his 18 years of presenting an annual 9/11 memorial around his home, Orange County firefighter Scott Townley will welcome a group of school children on a field trip Wednesday.
Townley noted how interest in marking the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a plane that crashed in a field in Pennsylvania has waned, so a visit from Orangethorpe Elementary School students has him excited to take them on a tour of his own memorial.
“We get a lot of home-schooled kids who learn about it, but as far as actual schools this is the first time we’ve had this interest,” Townley said, adding he expects about 65 students to attend his Wednesday morning service before touring the memorial, which includes flags and photos of the thousands of victims of the terrorist attacks.
Also new this year is a four-foot high replica of the twin towers that are illuminated with blue lights at night as a nod to the two blue lights that were put in place of the fallen towers after 9/11.
This year, Townley had the solemn task of adding about 200 more names of rescue workers and first responders who died from illnesses related to the dust and toxins released in the explosions on part of the memorial.
Also represented are the 5,800 or so names of troops who have died in combat triggered by the 9/11 attacks, Townley said.
Several other events are scheduled in Orange County to mark the anniversary.
At the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, Norman Mineta, the U.S. Transportation Secretary on Sept. 11, 2011, will discuss how he ordered all flights grounded following the attacks. Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes and Orange County Fire Authority Chief Brian Fennessy will also be on hand.
Orange County firefighters will dedicate a steel beam recovered from the towers that was donated to the Orange County Fire Authority. Retired New York City firefighter Jerry Bresnan will participate in that ceremony at the authority’s headquarters in Irvine.
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